Well, it seems the pandemic has claimed another victim. The good news is he’s still with us to tell the tale of the bad news, which is that he’s retiring. He is a legendary, Grammy Award winning, American blues rock master we’re proud to be able to count as a long time friend, Delbert McClinton.
Along with many of his friends and fans, we were surprised and saddened to learn of Delbert’s decision from an announcement on his Facebook page.
While we certainly can understand and empathize with the reasoning behind the decision, it’s really sad on any of a number of levels that this singularly special talent and human being who has long been a part of our personal and professional lives has made the decision that “this is a good time to retire.”
Delbert’s music was on a mix tape Him made for Her when we were first dating. The song “Sandy Beaches” became a part of our life’s playlist early on and continues to this day.
“Sandy Beaches” also became the name of an annual family reunion cruise Delbert has hosted for 27 years that features an all-star line up of friends sailing the Caribbean and enjoying the heart and soul of American Music.
After being fans for years and having interviewed him by phone several times, our first personal encounter with Delbert took place in WGN radio’s Tribune Tower studios when Delbert and his guitarist, Gary Nicholson, were nice enough to fit an in-person visit with us into the schedule while in town performing at Chicago’s House Of Blues. Even though he was fighting a cold that night, Delbert was in good spirits and performed a couple of songs, one of which (“Better Off With The Blues”) he was nice enough to let us include on our “Life After Dark” cd, which helped raise thousands of dollars for charity.
Fortunately for us, in addition to many more on-air phone interviews, that was the first of many in-person interviews we’ve been privileged to do with Delbert.
One took place on Delbert’s bus before a show at Chicago’s City Winery.
And another took place backstage when Delbert was appearing at Space, in Evanston, Ill.
Delbert always let us video part of his performance to include with the interviews.
While we’re sorry to learn that Delbert’s retirement announcement means that, with the exception of the 7th annual Big Blues Bender to be held at Westgate Resort & Casino September 9-12, 2021 and the Sandy Beaches Cruise sailing January 15-22, 2023, he won’t be doing any more touring, we hope that he will still find time to spread a little of his magic around the recording studio now and then and share the results with us. Some things are just too good to lose. Delbert’s talent is one of those.
Most importantly, we hope he is able to, as he says, “enjoy my family and travel a bit as it becomes safer. It’s been a great ride.”
It really has and thanks for letting us tag along.
Steve & Johnnie